Refugee health cuts: Ottawa has until Nov. 4 to put in place new policy

A pretty resounding defeat (again) for the Government for a particularly mean-spirited policy change, one whose policy rationale sharply diminished given the dramatic reduction in the number of refugee claimants following refugee reform:

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Alexander was critical of the decision.

“Our government disagrees with the courts flawed decision and will continue to do whats necessary to protect the interests of Canadian taxpayers and genuine refugees,” Kevin Menard said in an email.

Lawyers for the refugee claimants who brought the case had argued the stay was unnecessary as the government could just revert to the pre-2012 system referred to in Fridays decision as the 1957 program, which granted coverage to everyone.

The Conservatives had implemented a new refugee health-care program in 2012 which drastically cut coverage and meted it out depending on the nature of the refugee claim itself.

They argued that since the old program is no longer operational, the four months given by the Federal Court to create a new one wasnt enough time.

In his decision, Webb said allowing the stay would have meant saddling affected refugees with reduced health-care coverage for an undetermined period while the case continued to churn through the courts.

“It seems to me that the effect of denying the stay which would mean that the changes to the 1957 program … would not be made would be to defer these changes until the final resolution of the appeal, if the appellants are successful,” he wrote.

“The harm that would be caused by reverting to the 1957 program … is outweighed, in this case, by the harm that would be suffered by those who would have reduced health coverage under the 2012 program if the stay is granted and the respondents are ultimately successful.”

We will see if the Government chooses to respond by creating “confusion” or just gets on with implementing the change.

Refugee health cuts: Ottawa has until Nov. 4 to put in place new policy – Politics – CBC News.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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